With its dazzling white sandy beaches, aquamarine waters, lush tropical greenery, volcanic mountains and cascading waterfalls, St Lucia has a reputation for being the most beautiful of all the islands in the West Indies.
It also has some of the best beaches in the Caribbean. But, in between catching the sun on a palm fringed beach, there’s plenty more to see and do on this paradise island.
Sports enthusiasts will be spoilt for choice as there are so many activities to try from scuba diving and sailing, to hiking, biking and even mountain climbing. St Lucia is famous too for having the only drive-through volcano in the world, where you can also bathe in the sulphurous hot springs at the foot of the mountain. There’s also plenty for culture vultures, as St Lucia boasts many places of historic interest, including old plantation sites and estates to visit.
So, if you’re looking to go on an idyllic Caribbean beach holiday, this is the perfect destination to get away from it all.
Getting there/getting around St Lucia
St Lucia has two airports – Hewanorra International Airport, in the south, serving flights from outside the Caribbean, and the smaller George F.C. Charles Airport, in the north, for flights from other Caribbean islands. Buses and taxis are available from both airports to destinations all over the island. There is also a helicopter service between the two airports. Many airlines fly here, including Virgin Atlantic, British Airways, BMI, Air Jamaica, American Eagle and American Airlines. There are also many good package deals to St Lucia.
If you want to get round the island, there are plenty of options including by taxi, minivan or bus. Taxis are readily available. But, these are not metered – so, you simply agree to a fixed price with the driver beforehand. You can also catch a minivan, or jump on a bus. Both run regularly between designated stops. Ask at your hotel for a timetable and routes.
Beaches in St Lucia
One of St Lucia’s main attractions for holidaymakers are the fantastic beaches. The most popular resorts, Reduit Beach, Choc Bay, Smuggler’s Cove and Marigot Bay, are on the Caribbean side, off the western coast. You will also find some of the best packages here for all the family. The beaches here are quite breathtaking – dazzling, white sands and aquamarine blue waters. There are also many beautiful beaches, with stunning, lush green mountain back drops, around the spectacular Marigot Bay. All the resorts have superb watersports facilities including diving, windsurfing and jet skiing.
Further south, north of Soufriere, you’ll find another great family resort, Anse Chastanet, famous for its diving and snorkelling. But, if you prefer something slightly off the beaten track, head to Vieux Fort at the southern end of the island.
On the east coast facing the Atlantic lie Cas en Bas, Donkey Beach, Anse Lavoutte, Anse de Sables and Secret Beaches. The waves here are bigger, making it ideal for surfers, and the landscape is more rugged.
Sightseeing in St. Lucia
A good starting point is to have a wander around the capital, Castries. Much of the town itself is very modern, as it had to be rebuilt after two fires. The oldest remaining part is the ‘Hill of Good Luck’, or the Morne Fortune Historic area, which offers the best views. You’ll also find the 18th century, historic military buildings of Fort Charlotte here. Also worth a look, is the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, and Columbus Square, in the centre of town, with its lovely 19th century buildings. Castries also has a picturesque harbour area.
Head further south, and see the banana plantations at Cul de Sac. The oldest is the Marquis Plantation, where you can see the old slave quarters. Go further and you’ll reach two of St Lucia’s most amazing natural sights the dramatic Gros Piton and Petit Piton, two incredibly steep, twin peaks which tower majestically out of the sea.
The nearest town is Soufriere, St Lucia’s oldest town, where you can see old Creole buildings. From here it’s only a stone’s throw to the world’s only drive-through volcano. You’ll find the Sulphur Springs Park at the centre, where you can take a therapeutic dip in the bubbling sulphurous waters. While you’re here, see too the Diamond Falls, a volcanic waterfall, surrounded by amazing tropical gardens.
Other places of interest in the south, that offer a fascinating glimpse of St Lucian history, include the Fond Doux Estate, a cocoa plantation, where you can still see the original plantation house, and Morne Coubaril Estate, a working cocoa and coconut plantation. The Balenbouche Estate, now a working farm, is another historic place of note where the old plantation house is surrounded by an exquisite, tropical garden. There is also an old water mill and sugar mill.
Main attractions on the Atlantic side of the island include Errard Plantation, in Dennery, a restored fruit and cocoa plantation. Also, Visit Mamiku Gardens, fifteen acres of lovely gardens, set around an 18th century historic estate. Also, not to be missed is Fond D’Or Historical Park, a former estate, where you can see sugar mill relics, go hiking and relax on the gorgeous white sandy beach afterwards.
Family attractions in St. Lucia
St. Lucia is the perfect place to keep the kids happy. There are so many activities they can enjoy including watersports, tennis, cycling and horse riding. Take them to Anse Chastanet, in the south, where there are designated bike trials that will take you through the rainforest, and to see old colonial ruins. Finish off with a cooling dip in the ocean.
You can also go on a boat trip and take the kids whale and dolphin spotting. The best places are off the west coast, around Castries, Soufriere and Vieux Port. Or, you can watch them from special land based viewing points. The kids will also enjoy a trip to Fond Latisab Creole where they experience old Creole traditions such as making cassava bread, cooking on leaves and catching crayfish in the river. Or, take the family to Pigeon Island National Park, home to St. Lucia Jazz Festival, where you can see some amazing wildlife and go swimming and sunbathing on the lovely, secluded beaches.
Day trips around St. Lucia
Spend an exhilarating day hiking your way up the Pitons, the two famous peaks, in the south. The first half of the way is more of a gentle meander but the climb does gradually steepen. You’ll be rewarded with fantastic panoramic views if you make it to the top.
If you are staying in the north, you can take a guided tour of the south where you go by boat along the scenenic coast to Soufriere, then travel by minibus to visit various sights, the banana plantations, the drive-through volcano, the Sulphur Hot Springs and Diamond Falls.
Eating out in St. Lucia
Trying the wonderful food in St. Lucia is an experience in itself. The cuisine has a strong French Creole influence. Typical ingredients include plantain, sweet potato, rice, spicy fish, chicken, coconut, lime, and spices. Local delicacies include puoile dudon, a spicy chicken stew, flavoured with treacle and coconut, accras, battered salt cod balls, seasoned with herbs and pepper, and bondu, black pudding.
You’ll find lots of great restaurants around Rodney Bay. A good one to try is Lime which specialises in fresh seafood. Also, Ti Banane, for French Caribbean dishes. Or, try Kimlan’s, in Castries, for traditional Creole cooking. In Marigot Bay, eat at the Rainforest Hideaway, if you want great food in a scenic rainforest setting. Further south, try Dasheene, in Soufriere, for Creole food.
Nightlife in St. Lucia
For the best nightlife, head to Rodney Bay Village, where you’ll find lots of lively clubs and bars including Rumours and Upper Level Nightclub. Other great places to try include Spinnaker, a bar on the beach, at Reduit Beach, JJs Paradise at Marigot Bay and The Wharf at Choc Bay.
Anse La Raye, is famous throughout St. Lucia for its famous Fish Fry – a lively outdoor event, that takes place every Friday, where people gather in the town to eat fresh seafood, have a drink, dance and listen to live music.
Shopping in St. Lucia
One of the best shopping centres in St. Lucia is at Pointe Seraphine, a harbour front shopping complex, in Castries, selling everything from clothes and jewellery to crystal, china and household goods. Castries also has a great outdoor market where you can buy fresh fruit and vegetables, spices, woven baskets and local crafts.
If you want to buy some batik, the best place to go is Caribelle Batik Factory, in Castries. Rodney Bay also has JQ Mall, a big shopping mall. Most towns have regular markets. Your hotel can advise you on which days they take place.